Exploring languages and cultures
Exploring languages and cultures

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Exploring languages and cultures

4.4.1 Managing diversity

Diversity is an asset but, as you have just seen in Activity 34, people’s understanding of what constitutes acceptable behaviour at work can differ from one culture to another. So how can staff from different cultures learn to work together?

Activity 35

In this next audio clip, Nigel White discusses recognising differences in any working relationship. He talks specifically from the perspective of someone helping to facilitate a merger between two companies from very different cultural backgrounds. Listen to the audio and complete the task below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Recognising differences
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Transcript: Recognising differences

So is the key there an awareness, awareness of your own culture and an awareness of the other culture? Does that help people to accommodate?
Nigel White:
Yeah, it does. I mean, we always, always have to be careful that if we focus too much on difference we can reinforce it, er, and that’s one of the challenges we face as facilitators because in these situations where we are usually more facilitating than training. It’s a little bit like if you go on a honeymoon and you recognise there are some things that, you know, he snores and she does strange things with the toothpaste: if we don’t address these things early, it might be a bit painful early on, but in the longer term it’s gonna be a better thing to do. If we skate over the surface we’re leaving problems to build up, so we have to try and get these issues out, but we have to do it in a way that’s always focused on ‘we’ve got to live with each other, we’ve got to work together, we’ve got to find a way, a modus operandi in the new here’.
End transcript: Recognising differences
Recognising differences
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Summarise Nigel White’s key message in one sentence.

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Here is one possible answer:

Recognise differences but try to accommodate to them.

In this section, through the example of Guidance Navigation, you have seen how a company can learn to work in a multicultural and multilingual environment, and how this benefits the organisation in terms of its flexibility and potential to innovate. However, it also means that employees have to learn to accommodate different behaviours and adapt their approaches and language use accordingly.


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